Reanimating Community with AniMAtic

AniMAticPhoto by Peggy Wang.

The animation community in Greater Boston is bigger than many people realize—a misperception that’s due to a lack of communication among creators, according to animators Alex Salsberg and Ian Connell. That dynamic is what they’re trying to solve with AniMAtic Boston, a Somerville-based event series and online community.

Salsberg and Connell became interested in building a community once they realized the disparity between the number of creators and the number of meetups in the area. Salsberg says he was inspired by Animatic T.O., a Toronto-based animation lecture series. Salsberg reached out to its founder, Barry Sanders, on Facebook, and the two ended up on a two-hour-long video call.

“He basically gave me a starter kit for how to run these animation events,” Salsberg says. “I had never run events before, I had not really done any public speaking before. This was a totally new thing.”

Sanders suggested that the new organization share the Animatic name so the two could function as “sister groups,” according to Salsberg.

The first AniMAtic event, held in 2015, was a panel with Alex and Lindsay Small-Butera—a married couple who run their own home animation studio called SmallBu and co-create the hit web series “Baman Piderman.” Since then, AniMAtic has gone on to host workshops about running a home studio, writing, producing, freelancing, leadership, and more.

Events are held at the Somerville Armory and are free and open to the public. Salsberg says that although they give creators a space to mingle and learn more about career opportunities in the area, they are far from networking events.

“We wanted people to come to our events and learn something and be inspired by our guest speakers,” he says. “It was very important to us that it didn’t feel like a networking event. A seemingly arbitrary decision we made is that we don’t want people to put on name-tags when they walk in. We don’t want it to feel like somewhere where you’re supposed to go and hand out as many business cards as you can.”

A typical audience at an AniMAtic event ranges from animation students to professionals in the field, as well as self-taught creators and people who are simply fans of animated content. There tend to be anywhere from 25 to 80 people at events, according to Salsberg.

“We try to connect with the art community as a whole, not just animators,” he says.

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